5x01: WHAT MAKES AN ALL STAR - Happy premiere of "Project Runway All Stars," humans of the Internet! Coming off the age-appropriate heels of "Project Runway: Junior," in which we saw some seriously talented teens (Congratulations, Maya!), I’m expecting to be wowed by this group of veterans. Have they grown artistically since they last graced the small screen? How 'bout emotionally? For the sake of the former I hope the latter is true. That said, I've always appreciated a little drama.
After the guys and gals have had enough time to squeal with excitement over their mutual respect and admiration for one another, Alyssa Milano makes her grand entrance, reminding the designers that there is no immunity and delivering the instructions for their first task.
5x02: LET IT FLOW - It’s Thursday, it’s time for a new challenge, and for those of you who are keeping track, we have yet to lose a single contestant. As I learned from “Troop Beverly Hills,” “too many accessories clutter an outfit,” so let’s get eliminating, shall we? The group raucously arrives at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Next to the poised principal dancers stretching at the barres, the designers look like an overstimulated kindergarten class.
Alyssa, pretty in pink, encourages the All Stars to pay close attention to the fabric the dancers are wearing while they perform, as it will be inspiration for this week’s challenge.
5x03: A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY, A LITTLE BIT ROCK N ROLL - It’s Thursday and I’m feeling glamorous. Let’s do this. This week we are joined by special guests Little Big Town, the country band comprised of Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, and Phillip Sweet.
It should be noted that when the judges sang the praises of Sam’s look, he kept silent about not having technically created it. Sam brags about it backstage. Ugh. I’m torn between loving Sam’s competitiveness and hating his general being. So Asha and Alexander take home the win and the rather surprised Daniel is eliminated. I can’t help it, I’ve got to say it: Damn, Daniel. Back at it again, getting eliminated from “Project Runway.”
5x04: FASHION 911 - Another day, another dollar, another episode of “Project Runway All Stars,” and I’ve got to tell you, Thursday came not a moment too soon. Between this being an election year and the Oscars finally recognizing that a middle-aged white man is worthy of an award, I am ready for a breath of true art and sophistication! This week we see the contestants arrive at the absolutely beautiful decommissioned Engine Company 31 Firehouse downtown and have nay but a moment to take in the awe-inspiring architecture when honorary EMT Alyssa Milano barrels towards them in an ambulance, sirens blaring for authenticity.
Joined by representatives from the FDNY, NYPD and New York EMTs, Alyssa explains that the firehouse is home to DCTV, the largest free arts training program for NYC youth that provides a creative outlet to address issues facing their community. I’m not even going to blast Ken for his easy joke (“I usually avoid the police, but he can handcuff me anytime he wants.”) because that cop was fine as hell. Alyssa drops the bomb on the group (good thing the emergency services were there!) and explains that this will be the Unconventional Challenge. The All Stars groan.
5x05: BIRTHDAY SUITS - The first day of spring isn’t supposed to be until March 20, but tell that to the sweat on my brow. Honestly, this 75-degree weather in New York City is almost too much of a good thing. I’m considering joining the naturist movement.
Hey, speaking of people who would rather go naked than wear anything, this week the All Stars get up close and personal with some very exposed clients. Dressed like a glamorous extra from “Mad Men,” Alyssa meets the designers on the runway, button bag in hand and a gleam in her eye. She is joined by ten Young Naturists of America in all of their nude glory.
5x06: GOING FOR BAROQUE - You guys, the designers got to go to Medieval Times this week! When I was a kid, Medieval Times was the coolest place, just dripping with decadence. From the giant turkey legs to the pretty plastic gem-encrusted dunce cap things you could buy for $50 at the gift shop, I was all in. And even now, as a pacifist vegetarian who has since learned about the Plague, I have a special place in my heart for the jousting knights of Medieval Times and their damsels in distress.
The designers walk to the center of the fog-filled stadium, abuzz with 15th-century excitement. Introduced as the Queen of “Project Runway All Stars,” a majestic Alyssa dressed in royal blue rides in on an equally majestic horse and describes this week’s challenge.
5x07: BAIT AND STITCH - If you thought going back in time last week was disorienting, try this one on for size: The designers go to Mood before they even know the challenge. Alyssa is INSIDE of Mood waiting for them. Up is down, left is right, splash some cold water on my face and get me out of this fever dream! It’s all too much!
Alyssa gets straight to business explaining that because the designers have been making garbage fabric choices this season, they’re being stripped of their right to choose their own materials.
5x08: ONCE UPON A RUNWAY - It’s been kind of a gloomy week and I can only imagine that it’s a direct result of the loss of Valerie on “Project Runway All Stars.” I rather enjoyed her sunny disposition and that Creamsicle jumpsuit. I’ve passed the week by listening to a sad live acoustic version of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie” cover on repeat. But a heaping dose of fairytale lore should pull me out of this funk!
And as the designers walk into the appropriately named Drama Book Shop, I remember that there are still eight of them vying for our attention. Alyssa meets our runway warriors with special guest Laura Michelle Kelly. Ms. Kelly is particularly qualified to speak on fairytale fashion: She's currently starring in "Finding Neverland" on Broadway, and her first professional acting gig was in “Beauty and the Beast” in London’s West End.
5x09: A TOUCH OF STYLE - Coney Island is rich with inspiration for art: impromptu karaoke on the boardwalk, freak shows, that arcade that Mr. Robot uses as his clubhouse during the off-season, mermaid parades, even Beyoncé on the ferris wheel that one time! And the “Runway” family has been here before, if you recall the Unconventional Challenge in Season 12. But today the competition gets all “America’s pastime” on us. America’s pastime is judging people, right?.
Wrong! The designers arrive at the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones and make their way out onto the baseball field. Alyssa and the designers’ models, dressed in Alyssa’s comfy-cute athletic wear line, Touch, are waiting for them. The goal here is to become familiar with her brand because, as Alyssa explains, "The winning design will be modified, manufactured and sold as part of the Alyssa Milano Touch collection."
5x10: REBEL WITH A CAUSE - I think Kini said it best: “At this point, good is going to go home, great is going to stay.” We’re down to six designers, which means no one will be safe sitting backstage and waiting to hear the fate of their competitors. Sam says he’s fine with it because he doesn’t like being safe, which is about as cliché a line on a reality competition show as, “I’m not here to make friends.” Alyssa, in some tight leather leggings, explains that this week they’re continuing the “Project Runway All Stars” tradition of giving back.
The designers sit on those cushy black leather couches while Alyssa introduces Yvonne Niami, founder of n:Philanthropy. Yvonne explains that n:Philanthropy is a women’s apparel company that gives 10% of its profits to fight pediatric cancer through the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
5x11: STATE OF THE ART - In the words of Boy George: "Today is the worst day ever. Prince R.I.P I am crying!" I don’t know how to process my grief, so for the time being I’ll focus on this episode and pretend the world hasn’t ended!.
The top five designers meet Alyssa at the Agora Gallery for a healthy injection of contemporary art. This is a long time coming - a lack of inspiration is becoming more and more apparent in their work. If I see a jumpsuit this episode I will combust like an overheated robot.
5x12: PRINCE OF PRINTS - “All Stars” has given us a lot to digest before the fashion feast of a finale next week: mended fences, reunions and a showdown on the runway the likes of which has been seen before but that still managed to be a delightful surprise. Let’s recap this bad boy!
Nina says that our electronic devices are our new fashion accessories (iPad berets will be huge this fall) and Otterbox has been collaborating with designers to make beautiful new phone cases to reflect your beautiful personality. Barbara Meyer from Otterbox joins Nina and Alyssa and the three women get to explaining the challenge.
5x13: NEW YORK STATE OF MIND -
After this roller coaster of a season and last week's nail-biter of an episode, we finally get what we’ve earned: a drama-free finale. It’s about fashion, people, so bring it!
Our very smiley (and with good reason) final designers Ken, Dom and Kini meet Alyssa on the 102nd floor of the new One World Trade Center - which, by the way, is the tallest building in the Western hemisphere - for the introduction of their final challenge.